“God changed my eyes”
Though we are still learning the language, God has allowed us to be a part of His plan here mostly through a friend who is a new believer. I will call him A.R. for possible safety reasons. A.R. came to know Christ 4 months ago. Though I did not know him prior to his conversion, I have heard stories of what he was like both from him and others, and can tell you that his conversion is the most dramatic of anyone I have ever personally been around. From what I understand, A.R. was basically a gangster. He did drugs. He sold drugs. He was an alcoholic. He carried a gun everywhere he went, both for protection from other “bad guys” and so that he could rob people.
In fact, after speaking to our pastor, the man who brought A.R. to the Lord, I found out that A.R. is a "living legend" on the streets of our city but not a good legend.
He is seen here in our city as the character in Jim Croce's song from back in the 70's, "Bad Lee Roy Brown". However, t
he difference between my friend A.R. and "Lee Roy Brown" is that God had mercy on A.R. before he was made to look like a "jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone".
He was separated from his wife because he was continually unfaithful to her and because she feared for her life. When this occurred, their two children went to live with her parents in another state. Because he was unfaithful to her, she decided to do the same to him. And as a result, she became pregnant.
As I said, A.R. came to know the Lord four months ago. Three months after his conversion his wife gave birth(this past January) to two beautiful girls.
Our family has been able to be witnesses to one of the most incredibly beautiful pictures of what Christ did for us through A.R.’s changed life. He is desperately seeking to restore his marriage. His wife has seen the dramatic change in him and wanted what he had. She now is a follower of Jesus Christ! He has also taken these two little girls in as his own. When he takes them into his arms and looks at them, the look of adoration, love and compassion is incredible.
Here is a man who was probably as bad as most of us can possibly imagine and today we see a man who is filled with joy. A man who understands his depravity and the grace that was shown him. Here is a man who probably understands grace better than most of us will ever be able to understand in this life.
I have also been building a relationship with another young man who is an Atheist who works near our home. This man is a chef and owns a small restaurant that I frequent. Yesterday I met with A.R. at my Atheist friend's restaurant in order to discuss penetrating a small town of a couple thousand people near my house which has essentially no Evangelical presence.
After our meeting I gave my chef friend a book by Josh McDowel hoping that it might be able to answer some of his questions. He graciously accepted it and then asked A.R. a question. That opened the door wide open for A.R. to speak Truth to my Atheist friend. A.R. talked to him for over an hour about who he was prior to conversion and who he is now.
The joy, the seriousness, the passion, the boldness that A.R. spoke to this man with about Christ was incredible. It was far beyond his years and far beyond his time as a Christ follower. My chef friend was stunned to find out that A.R. was only 28, and was even more astounded that A.R. had only been a believer for 4 months. He kept saying that he couldnt believe that A.R. was younger than him and kept saying that he thought that A.R. had been a believer for 4 years, not 4 months.
After our meeting I took A.R. to his apartment and he gave me a picture. It was a picture of him sitting in a Ferrari. Initially I did not realize that it was A.R. I thought it was another man because the face of the man who was sitting in that car looked nothing like him. It was mean and full of hate.
I told our pastor about the picture and he said 'yes, A.R. was a man full of rage and hatred. When I would talk to him he would turn red and every muscle in his body would tighten and he would shake. He was full of hate."
I asked A.R. about his eyes in that picture because they were wicked and he smiled and replied, “God changed my eyes”.
The hardness, the rage, the evilness has been replaced with joy, hope and love.
Please pray not only for A.R. and his restored family but for my chef friend. Pray that Christ would shine His grace on him in the same manner that He displayed His grace to A.R.
Sunday I was witness to one of the most beautiful scenes. I was able to not only witness the baptism of both A.R. and his wife but I had the great honor of being the one who baptized them.
What a beautiful picture of God's grace! Thank you Jesus!